Heroin Addiction & Abuse

Information, Help & Guidance

Basic Characteristics

Just as the vast majority of opiates originate, heroin is derived from the latex present in the opium poppy plant. Unlike its contemporaries, it is more commonly used as a euphoria-inducing recreational drug than a pain reliever. Due to the nature of the substance, Heroin can be found almost exclusively on the streets; medical professionals rarely distribute it.

There are three common physical states in which heroin is sold. These include a white powder, brown powder, and a highly-viscous liquid (occasionally coal-like rock) variant known as black tar heroin. Despite their differences in appearance and texture, they are all equally devastating for your physical health and quality of life.

Both in the scientific community and on the streets, heroin is referred to by numerous alternative names. Scientifically and medically, heroin is sometimes known as diamorphine. On the streets, the substance is colloquially referred to as dope, horse, smack, and other various nicknames.

Heroin abuse often comes as the result of a pre-existing opiate dependence. One may find themselves deep in the midsts of a destructive addiction to opiate-pain-relief medication. When unable to obtain the medicine, they undergo crippling withdrawal symptoms. In desperation, rather than seek out the help they require, they turn to a cheap, easily-obtainable alternative. Heroin can temporarily satiate their withdrawal, while simultaneously further damaging their body.

Methods of Consumption

Contrary to popular belief, heroin use is not exclusive to injection. There are multiple means of introducing the drug into your body chemistry. Despite this variety, none of these methods will keep you safe from the negative effects.

As discussed, the most traditional means of consuming heroin is through needle injection. The needle is inserted into a vein, typically in the arm. From there, the substance is released directly into the bloodstream, where it rapidly takes effect. Out of all administration methods, this direct injection is the fastest and most conducive for inducing the feelings of euphoria that the drug is known for, hence its commonality.

Second in the practical effect line is smoking. Unlike most smoked drugs, it is not the resulting smoke itself that you inhale to get high. It is the fumes that accompany the vaporization of the drug that provide this desired effect. Frequent practice of this consumption method will likely lead you down the path toward lung disease.

Suppository heroin use is the act of inserting the drug into your body vaginally or anally. With the aid of an oral syringe, the drug enters the vaginal or anal cavity, where is consumed by the membrane walls found inside.

Sometimes heroin users snort the drug in a similar fashion to cocaine. For this method to succeed, they must crush the drug into a powder consistency. They then use either a tool (ex: rolled-up money bill, straw, etc.) or just their unprotected nose to inhale the powder through their nostrils. Each method will transport the drug to the sinus cavity, where it is assimilated into the bloodstream.

The final, and least potent means of consuming heroin is through ingestion. This method is highly uncommon, as it is not conducive for obtaining the euphoric effects that most desire from the drug.


Primitive forms of heroin have been abused since the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. However, the contemporary heroin that we have become accustomed here in the United States originated in the late 19th century. At this time, the renowned German pharmaceutical company Bayer was attempting to develop a pain reliever with less potency and addictiveness than morphine. In their research, the experimentation team accidentally crafted a drug roughly two times stronger than conventional morphine. This “failure” was the origin of the modern form of heroin prevalent in America today.

The drug was legally sold in the United States for 27 years under the guise of a cough suppressant and pain reliever. However, it was made illegal by Congress in 1924. Heroin has remained unlawful for nearly 100 years.

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Negative Effects

Although most abuse heroin to obtain immense euphoric pleasure, or to relieve medicinal opiate withdrawal, the adverse effects of heroin abuse gargantuanly overshadow the minuscule library of positives.

Needle injection directly into a vein, by its very nature, is medically unsafe. Needle reuse is conducive for the transportation of blood-borne diseases like HIV, fungal endocarditis, and hepatitis.

As discussed, heroin is a profoundly addictive substance. Once your body develops a dependence on the drug, it can’t function properly without it. Physical reliance on heroin can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms during elongated abuse session gaps. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, profuse sweating, severe anxiety, and even crippling depression.

Your addiction to heroin will have calamitous social consequences. You will alienate, or outright harm your friends and family in your desperation for your next high. Your relationships will shatter as your life becomes centered around combating your withdrawal. Your behavior will alienate you from your loved ones, leaving you lonely and depressed.

Extensive heroin abuse not only serves as the conduit for devastating addiction, but as a deadly force. Over-abuse of the drug even once can cause an overdose. Although sometimes medically stoppable, this often results in the user’s death.

The Epidemic

Due to coverage from the mainstream news media, many Americans perceive heroin as an epidemic spreading across the nation. This perpetuated notion originated from the sheer prevalence of heroin abuse in the United States. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, roughly 1.5 million Americans abuse heroin. Although not all of these abusers are addicted to the drug, a shocking amount are.

If you are one of these addicts, you are not alone in your suffering. Riverside Recovery of Tampa has made it our mission to save as many of these individuals as possible. Their dedicated staff and state-of-the-art technology will help you combat your addiction, and restore your productive and happy lifestyle. For more information, contact our team today. 

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Our experienced, compassionate admissions staff at Riverside Recovery of Tampa will guide you through every step of the admissions process. Many of them have gone through recovery themselves or are experienced in the mental health and substance abuse field. From your initial contact with our center, to your intake assessment, the admissions staff will bring you through our doors and on your way to recovery.